Buying men’s gifts can be challenging – they’re usually a little less sentimental than their female counterparts, yet the classic ‘useful’ gifts are often unexciting.

Socks, ties and underpants all come in handy, but they don’t exactly inspire much gratitude among recipients, and they’re definitely not shining examples of ‘it’s the thought that counts’.

There are plenty of alternatives though –so what of those options might make the perfect gifts for him, and what should you steer clear of?

Gift sets

Not all gift sets are a bad choice – toiletries often come in useful, and you know that soaps, shower gels and shaving creams will get used eventually.

Steer clear of novelty gift sets, however; they might seem like a good idea in the shop, but once the moment’s passed they will often end up just taking up space.

For a more thoughtful option, put together a gift set of your own by picking individual items you know your recipient will appreciate, and packaging them all together in a basket or box.

Art

Art makes a great gift – it’s unique, or at least usually part of a limited run; it’s something you don’t see in every high-street shop; and best of all, it’s easy to wrap up neatly and in a decorative way.

Choose something that suits your recipient’s home’s colour scheme, that features their favourite colours, or that pictures an interest, hobby or pastime of theirs.

If you’re not sure, there’s always the option of buying something with several different colours and an abstract design, which will work in plenty of different rooms and is bound to provide a talking point wherever it is hung.

Clothes

If you know what size your intended recipient wears, consider buying clothes – not underwear, but outerwear.

A good-quality T-shirt will often get plenty of wear, while a more formal shirt can be a thoughtful gift for an office worker, or any man who likes to look smart.

Most importantly, these are garments that most people don’t give very often, so there’s more chance of them being something your recipient actually needs to add to his wardrobe.

Alcohol

Put your sense of social propriety to one side, and give the gift of alcohol; it’s a curious thing that taking a bottle to a house party is accepted as the norm, yet many people shy away from giving alcoholic drinks directly as gifts.

A bottle of artisan ale can give even the most seasoned of beer-drinkers a new taste experience, and is a good option if you’re buying on a tight budget.

For more of a statement, a bottle of fine wine carries clear value, if you’re concerned about making sure the recipient knows how much you’ve spent.

And even a moderately priced bottle of fizz adds a touch of glamour to a party, and is a gift that the birthday boy can share with his guests – you may even get a glass of it yourself.

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